Crew Review: Ascaso Basic Espresso Machine
This entry was posted on January 2, 2017.
How Does It Compare?
Basic gets a whole new definition with the Ascaso Basic Espresso Machine! Sure, it’s simple design and easy to use controls are the fundamentals, but this little machine comes with more accessories for budding baristas to grow their technique; the Basic includes both non-pressurized, pressurized and pod baskets to adapt to anyone’s barista skills.
With the crowd favorite Saeco Via Venezia discontinued, the Basic swoops in to take its place as the new affordable, user-friendly machine. If you’re a new barista looking for an entry-level semi-automatic espresso machine, the Basic fills in the right price point for the amount of features packed in this little machine.
Updated Boiler Design
On the previous model, the heating element would burn out frequently enough that it became an issue—but rest assured that problem is no more! The improved Ascaso Basic Espresso Machine comes equipped with a thermoblock boiler that helps prevent burnout.
But, there’s another reason we love the new thermoblock upgrade: quick start up time. The thermoblock also quickly heats water on the fly to brew lattes and macchiatos in a matter of minutes. When you hear the tell-tale sound of marching soldiers, the thermoblock is engaged and ready to go!
Of course, with a thermoblock, we recommend steaming and then brewing since you can’t simultaneously do both. With any thermoblock boiler, you’ll want to “temperature surf” to reduce the temperature to keep from scorching your coffee! With the Basic, hit the brew button and open the steam want to pull cool water from the reservoir through the boiler—ta-da! The thermoblock quickly heats and cools to make using the Basic simpler. And it has an aluminum stainless steel-lined thermoblock, so the water doesn’t come in contact with aluminum.
While we love the thermoblock boiler, one hiccup we’ve noticed is the Ascaso Basic Espresso Machine steams slowly. The panarello-style steam wand is narrow and taller than competitors wands, and coupled with a thermoblock, it takes longer to heat milk. That said, the Basic is a small machine designed for a few lattes, so consider the quantity of milk you drink with your coffee.
Entry-Level Espresso Machine
Simple barely begins to describe how practical the Ascaso Basic Espresso Machine is for people looking for their first semi-automatic espresso machine. The Saeco Via Venezia has always been a popular choice amongst new or budget-focused baristas, but when it was discontinued there was a gap for another machine to take its place.
Enter the Ascaso Basic. It’s affordable, compact and easy to use. Its controls are limited to an intuitive on/off button, brew button, steam button, and the side-mounted steam knob. There’s hardly any learning curve to operate the Basic! And functionally speaking, the Basic has user-friendly features built right into the machine.
One of the features is the three-way solenoid valve that releases pressure from the portafilter. This helps prevent the classic “portafilter sneeze,” where coffee grounds basically explode when you twist the portafilter off.
Accessories For Budding Baristas
One of the features you shouldn’t overlook when buying a semi-automatic espresso machine is the accessories that come with it. Equipped with non-pressurized, pressurized and pod baskets, the Ascaso Basic Espresso Machine has all the accessories that make it easy to improve your technique. And with the pod adapter, anyone in the family can brew a delicious cup of coffee without any fuss!
The 57mm chrome-plated brass portafilter offers double spouts and a solid, weighty feel in-hand. One thing we noticed on the double spouted portafilter was that the spouts were closer together to help keep the coffee in the shot glass and not the drip tray!
As far as design goes, the Ascaso Basic Espresso Machine’s compact size and soft corners will easily fit on small counter spaces. At only a little over 12-inches tall, it’s right on par with other entry-level espresso machines. And, you know what? For a lot of new baristas, this size is perfect for some trying out a new hobby—at least, we think coffee is a fantastic hobby! Even though it’s a small machine, it holds 2-liters of water to brew a few lattes without rushing to the sink.
That said, there is one design elements that makes us scratch our heads. The cup warmer. While the Basic’s compact size means the thermoblock heats both cup warmer and group head the Basic has a slanted no-rail lid. This design means that most mugs just won’t stay put! Overall, the cup warmer is a poorly designed feature that we would have loved to use.
The Ascaso Basic Espresso Machine is a welcomed addition to the small lineup of entry-level espresso machines. It’s easy to operate, packed with features and priced perfectly for people looking for their first semi-automatic. It has all the accessories you’ll need to begin brewing, with extra features that give you room to grow! The Basic is nothing short of a great beginner espresso machine!